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Why was Sourav axed?

Ganguly not being given a chance at Ahmedabad raises a huge question mark.

india Updated: Dec 17, 2005 21:14 IST

Call itirony or the politics of cricket. Immediately after Rahul Dravid named Sourav Ganguly, among others, as one of the contributors in India’s victory over Sri Lanka on Wednesday, the selectors announced the latter’s axing from the team.

They also announced Dravid as captain for next month’s tour to Pakistan and for the subsequent home series against England. An honour that Dravid deserves, given the imaginative and professional manner in which he has handled this team, especially in the aftermath of the Greg Chappell-Ganguly spat which was threatening to divide the team.

On the same dais from where Dravid and Anil Kumble, the major bowling star in the win, had addressed the press, sat chairman of the selection committee Kiran More and BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah — both Sharad Pawar men.

It is a sad reflection on Indian cricket that when Wasim Jaffer’s name was announced as Ganguly’s replacement, the first thing that struck most was that Jaffer is from Mumbai, the city to which Pawar belongs. The immensely talented Jaffer — he went to the West Indies and England but was never given an extended run — would hate to be seen as someone who is not there in his own right.

When a reporter asked whether the decision was based on vendetta, as the man replacing the Kolkatan (Jagmohan Dalmiya’s city) belongs to Pawar’s place, both More and Shah got upset.

Their reaction: "Don't attribute such motives, this is not fair." Immediately after, More and Shah walked out in a huff.

Though it is now almost impossible for Ganguly to make a comeback, he has not given up. "I'll go back and play domestic cricket and try to fight my way back into the team," he said.

Against the backdrop of Ganguly's return for the first two Tests and the subsequent removal of the three selectors who were Dalmiya's men, the obvious inference to draw would be that the new selection committee -- all Pawar's men -- has evened the score.

Going by cold, cricketing logic the return of Jaffer makes sense -- the new supremo of Indian cricket, Greg Chappell, had wanted a pool of openers for the tour of Pakistan.

That Yuvraj Singh is a special talent and deserves to play in the XI and that Mohammed Kaif cannot be kept waiting for eternity also mean Ganguly's place was tenuous.

But if this was the line of thinking, why was Ganguly brought back in the first place?

And he may have not made huge scores at the Kotla, but his contribution to victory was not mean. His partnership with Sachin Tendulkar in the first innings and with Yuvraj in the second came at crucial stages.

Ganguly surely deserved another chance at Ahmedabad. That he was not given one raises a huge question mark over the way the BCCI and the selectors function.

Prasanna shocked

Kolkata: EAS Prasanna expressed shock and disappointment at the axing of Sourav Ganguly from the team, saying the stylish left-hander has been given a raw deal."I am shocked. I don't think he should have been treated like this. He performed quite well in the Delhi Test (against Sri Lanka). Dropping him from the third Test defies logic," he said. "He has served Indian cricket for years. You can't treat such a cricketer so shabbily."

Prasanna said if the selectors were determined to drop Ganguly, they should have told him so frankly.

"To sum up, I feel that history has repeated itself. This is the manner in which we have been treating our heroes.” (PTI)

First Published: Dec 17, 2005 21:14 IST